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Published on: 08/05/2017

Do you want to know more about the life-cycle cost approach and how it can help you to plan and budget for sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services? Then sign-up for our Costing Sustainable Services e-course. The course is in English, free of charge and open to anyone interested in the topic. It is a hands-on course which helps you to familiarise yourself with the life-cycle cost approach and to integrate it in your own work. You can interact with the other participants via a Forum and also IRC staff members are ready to help you throughout the course. Once you have successfully completed the course you will receive an IRC certificate.


The course consists of three modules:

  • Module 1 What is the life-cycle cost approach; it introduces the main concepts of life-cycle costing, its underlying principles and key components.
  • Module 2 Using the life-cycle cost approach; it provides ideas and tools on how life-cycle costing can be integrated in your own work and organisation.
  • Module 3 Analysing life-cycle cost approach data; it explains how to analyse life-cycle costs and service levels of water and sanitation.

The modules consist of a series of sessions each containing exercises and reading materials. Some sessions also include optional videos and online webinars. You can follow the course at your own pace for 3 months. The course material guides you through the modules and exercises.

How to register

The starting dates for the online course in 2017 are:

What is the life-cycle cost approach?

Lack of accurate information makes it impossible to estimate the true cost of extending sustainable and good quality water and sanitation services to the poorest. To address this challenge, IRC has developed and tested the life-cycle costs approach (LCCA) in many different contexts and countries over the past eight years. The LCCA can be used to analyse the real costs of water, sanitation and hygiene in rural and peri-urban areas in developing countries and, increasingly, in refugee camps and emergency settlements. The life-cycle cost data are assessed against service levels which makes it possible to compare the costs within and across countries. Making these financial data available helps professionals to budget and make informed decisions on policies and implementation practices.

Life-cycle costs are the costs of ensuring adequate services to a specific population in a determined geographical area – not just for a few years but indefinitely.  All costs from construction, and installation, to maintenance, repairs and eventual replacement are taken into account, including payment for borrowed money either at household or national level government. Life-cycle costs also include costs for source protection, training and capacity development, planning and institutional pro-poor support. In short: the costs that it takes to deliver a service and not only to build infrastructure.  

The LCCA was developed in the WASHCost project: a five-year action research project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. WASHCost teams in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mozambique and Andhra Pradesh (India) collected and analysed cost and service level information for water, sanitation and hygiene in rural and peri-urban areas. WASHCost worked with service levels to help arrive at realistic calculations and benchmarks for costs that are required to achieve sustainability. 

We hope to see you on one of our courses! If you have any questions please contact us via

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